Traditionally, one of the purposes of a monumental piece of architecture was to project power, prestige and strength. Most people’s image of eco-friendly architecture — a quirky house covered in solar panels or poking out from under a hill — evinces none of these qualities. However, in the last decade or so, eco-friendly architecture has rivaled and, in a few exceptional cases, even surpassed the impressiveness of traditional architecture. Read on for five truly jaw-dropping structures that are also eco-friendly.
One of the tallest buildings in the world is good to the environment, too. Located in Taipei, Taiwan, Taipei 101 recycles water and collects water off its own roof for use. The thick, reflective panes on the building’s sides shut out heat and decrease the energy used for cooling. In addition, engineers upgraded the building’s lighting, wiring and water systems a few years after the building’s construction. These upgrades earned Taipei 101 Platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The building is an excellent example of how a building can be eco-friendly and impressive. It has 101 floors above the ground and, at 1,669.9 feet in height, was the tallest building in the world from 2004 to 2010.
Sun and the Moon Altar
The largest solar-powered office building in the world is in Dezhou, Shandong Province, China. This building, shaped like the Chinese characters for sun and moon, gets 95 percent of its energy from alternative energy sources. Solar water heaters provide all the building’s hot water. Advanced insulation systems reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool the building. Nearby, a solar-powered desalination plant provides water. The Sun and Moon Altar shows that China is serious about reducing its environmental footprint.
Adobe World Headquarters
All three towers in this office complex, headquarters of the Adobe Systems software company, have earned Platinum certification from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. The trio of towers, each over 200 feet tall, is located in San Jose, California. Together, they contain nearly 1 million square feet of office space. The towers’ efficient energy use has saved Adobe millions. Hopefully, Adobe World Headquarters will inspire other companies to save money by saving the environment.
This building in Munich, Germany, wows visitors with its strange shape and novel design. BMW Welt — Welt means world in German — displays the company’s cars and serves as a conference center. The building’s roof is its most unique feature. Two steel cones, connected at their points, support a curvy roof holding a massive solar array. With commercial energy rates always rising, this feature is great for the environment and the wallet.
One Westminster Place
Located on the Thames River in the heart of London, this building’s glass facade reflects light back in groovy rainbow colors. The reflected light means that this building’s energy requirements are lower. The layered glass also collects some solar power for the building to use. Its crystalline exterior, which looks more like a disco ball than a traditional office building, proves that green buildings can be stylish and exciting.